Free food for first responders and food insecure Brooklynites during weekend of giveaways

Borough President Eric Adams (third from left) and members of Mercy for Animals distribute meals to food insecure Brooklynites in Bed-Stuy during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Rachel Atcheson/Brooklyn BP’s Office

First responders working out of or stopping into a Borough Park hospital were treated to a free meal on Sunday as Brooklynites continue to give back while the city attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Meals were delivered to hospital workers, police officers, and firefighters at Maimonides Medical Center and were meant to serve as a thank you for their service and for being on the forefront of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our first responders remain on the front lines of providing aid, services, and comfort to those in our borough and across this city during these difficult times,” said Borough President Adams, who organized the giveaway with help from local businesses and advocacy groups, such as Pakistani American Youth Services and the Shorefront Coalition.

“We must be consistent in thanking them in ways, big and small, while being vigilant in keeping them in our thoughts, prayers, and relief efforts for the duration of this crisis,” Adams said. “I thank the Shorefront Coalition and the Pakistani American Youth Society for helping to organize this initiative, and our first responders throughout the city who perform heroic acts every single day.”

“Even the smallest gesture can be meaningful to the countless small businesses and local restaurants during this time,” Steve Saperstein, one of the co-founders of the Shorefront Coalition, said. “If someone is in a position to do so, they can order a food delivery from their favorite restaurant and route it to our heroic healthcare workers and first responders who are on the frontlines contributing to the effort against COVID-19.”

Saperstein estimated that his group will be giving out more than 2,500 meals this week, mainly to other borough hospitals, firehouses and police precincts.

On Saturday, Adams helped Mercy for Animals — an international, anti-animal cruelty advocacy group — dish out free, plant-based meals for food insecure Brooklynites at a Bedford–Stuyvesant food share. The meals, distributed outside of Herbert Von King Park, were purchased by Mercy for Animals from vegan establishments across the city, so that they might also help keep some of those small businesses stay afloat.

“As our city works to contain the spread of coronavirus, so many people across our Borough are experiencing real crises, and every elected leader must show that they are hearing and responding to these concerns,” Adams said of Saturday’s giveaway. “This event was a great opportunity to show solidarity with first responders and essential workers who are working around the clock to help those in need.” 

An estimated 1.2 million New Yorkers are food insecure, which means they do not have access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. That number is likely even higher as the spread of the novel coronavirus forces some businesses to shutter and panic-buying leads to bare supermarket shelves.

Meanwhile, thousands of healthcare workers and first responders are still reporting to work amid the current crisis.

A spokesman for the BP said his office hopes to keep the distributions going and that reps are currently in the process of planning the next few giveaways.